Recently a colleague of mine was telling me about her elderly cat whose breath had become quite intolerable. She examined his little fangs, which seemed to be fine. She switched his food, but nothing seemed to alleviate the smelly problem. Ultimately, it dawned on her that his breath smelled ultra-sweet. A trip to the vet confirmed her cat had developed diabetes.
While rotten breath in pets can be an nuisance, in humans it can be downright offensive to others and quite embarrassing (if you are actually aware of the problem).
Unfortunately, many people are oblivious that their breath has become discourteous. If you have dry mouth, a coating on the tongue, have noticed a bad taste, or the taste in your mouth changes, you may have halitosis.
Although halitosis is sometimes an indication of a more serious medical disorder – such as diabetes – it is most often a none-life-threatening temporary problem resulting from foods you consume, dry mouth, tobacco products, medication, poor oral hygiene, or substandard maintenance of dentures or dental appliances.
Maintain Oral Health
Most individuals with bad breath can effectively treat and eliminate the condition on their own. Maintaining proper oral health can greatly reduce or eliminate that icky breath. Brush and floss your teeth and dental appliances thoroughly with toothpaste at least morning and night, and preferably after meals. Be sure to brush the tongue and roof of your mouth too. If you have appliances, a product such as Efferdent can assist in the cleansing process. Gargle with water or mouthwash after brushing. Be sure to replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months.
Proper oral hygiene, as described above, will eliminate food particles from those precious pearly whites. Fragments of your fare that remain on your ivories or dentures and dental appliances will rot and cause lingering unpleasant odors. They can also promote the growth of bacteria and plaque, which also bolsters foul odors.
Foods and supplements often contributing to odious breath are onions and garlic, exotic spices (like curry), certain cheeses, fish, fish oil capsules, and acidic drinks like coffee or alcohol. Low-carb diets can also cause ‘ketone breath’ which occurs when the body burns fat as energy. The ketones produce a fruity odor when exhaled. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, reduce your meat intake, and avoid the major food offenders. Even proper oral hygiene can only mask those odors until the foods have been eliminated from your body, because they are absorbed into your bloodstream and carried into your lungs, which are expelled when you breathe or talk.
Dry mouth can also cause foul breath. Saliva is a vital part of the digestive process and cleanses the morsels of your meal still remaining in the mouth, eliminating bacteria growth. To re-hydrate, drink plenty of water, eat at regular intervals, and suck on sugarless hard candy to stimulate the production of saliva.
Problems that may also cause mouth odor include:
- Infections, such as strep throat or sinus infections
- Dental problems, such as cavities
- Tonsils with deep tunnels (crypts) that trap food particles
- Throat or mouth cancers
- Digestive system disorders, such as reflux, bowel problems, or cancer
- Liver disease
- Lung problems, such as an infection or cancer
When To See A Professional:
If good personal oral hygiene has not eradicated the source of your chronic bad breath, call Dr. Arhiri to identify and treat the root problem, especially if you have:
- Sores in the mouth
- Persistent dry mouth
- Pain with chewing or swallowing
- White spots on the tonsils
- Just started a new medication
- Had recent dental surgery
Dr. Arhiri will conduct a full medical and dental history, as well as a comprehensive dental exam. X-rays may be taken to uncover any hidden cavities and gum disease will be considered.
Patients with extreme dry mouth may require a prescription for artificial saliva. Special toothpaste and mouthwash can also be prescribed. If gum disease is the cause, those conditions will be treated accordingly. If it is determined that the cause is not of oral origin, you may be referred to a physician.
If bad breath is all but killing your confidence and self esteem, yet nothing you’ve tried has worked, please see a professional to assist you in reclaiming your life!